What Are Fast Fashion’s Ethical Issues?

Fast fashion may be quick, but its ethics are slower than a turtle on a treadmill.

Fast fashion is a term used for clothing items that are mass-produced for low-cost with cheaper materials, meant to be worn for a short amount of time before being discarded. However, as you may be aware, fast fashion is full of ethical concerns and issues.                                                

As high fashion brands started to resurge and clothes manufacturing became cheaper, consumers’ demand for cheaper and trendy clothes has allowed fast fashion to progress with an immense speed. A lot of fast fashion brands took advantage of the low-cost labor and cheap and easy-to-access materials, thus causing a mass production of clothes, most of which end up being tossed away in a landfill unused.

This article will take a deep dive into fast fashion’s ethical issues, we will also examine sustainable fashion and how to be a more conscious buyer.

Ethical Issues Caused By Fast Fashion

Fast fashion’s dynamic is fast, its name can attest to that. As we mentioned before the core traits of fast fashion are fast manufacturing, low quality, and bad recyclability. Nonetheless, here are some of fast fashion’s ethical concerns, starting with the exploitation of workers:

Exploitation Of Workers

The fashion industry is a labor-dependent industry. And fast fashion manufacturers know how to take advantage of lax laws in countries that have lower living standards and their citizens aren’t paid that well. These workplaces or more commonly known as sweatshops have terrible working conditions where workers are in contact with toxic chemicals and materials whilst making the clothes, therefore they’re breaking many human rights and laws.

Environmental Impact

The impact that fast fashion has on planet Earth is immense.

Water And Harming Animals

Fast fashion factories are notoriously known for their water usage and pollution. Cheap toxic textile dyes are one of the main clean water polluters. Local water sources may be contaminated because of this, resulting in water shortages and poisoned water in some communities. Fast fashion is all about using easy-to-access materials (as we mentioned above) which for the most part are very cheap and hazardous to both flora and fauna. Not even animals are safe.

Materials such as polyester contribute to global warming and can shed microplastics that add to the increasingly alarming levels of plastic in the oceans, which marine life often ingest thinking it’s an edible food source. Even natural materials can contribute to pollution. Such as cotton which requires land to grow and pesticides and fertilizers can all play a part in habitat destruction.


With the constant rotation of trends that seem to change every few business days, and with the non-stop demand for clothes, fast fashion factories use so much energy and fossil fuels to mass produce. All of that results in the emission of greenhouse gasses and carbon.

Disposable Culture

Fast fashion promotes a culture of disposability, where clothes are viewed as disposable rather than investments that should last. Fast fashion makes us believe that we should always buy more and more clothes, to always follow the latest trends. This all leads to piles of clothes being thrown away in landfills every day.

Fast Fashion Alternatives

For everyone who wants to avoid fast fashion with all its ethical issues, there are many alternatives. Some of which we will discuss briefly in today’s article. Starting with sustainable fashion:

Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing and footwear that are made from eco-friendly materials, and recycled materials with minimal chemical usage and it promotes fair labor practices and long-lasting products. The goal is to create a fashion industry that is more socially responsible and causes less harm to people and the entire planet. Sustainable and eco-conscious brands recycle their water and use natural dyes or dyes that have fewer chemicals in them to minimize their waste and protect the environment.

Second-Hand Shopping

Another more famous alternative to fast fashion is second-hand shopping. Buying pre-owned clothing from thrift stores, vintage shops, and online shops. This way we can reduce textile waste and give the clothes another home and a chance to be worn again.

Vintage and second-hand shopping have been becoming increasingly more and more famous every day thanks to social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, which have urged lots of people to start practicing it themselves.

Another upside of purchasing vintage clothing is often you can get a pretty good deal on older designer clothing. We also encourage everyone who has clothes that they don’t wear anymore to donate them to thrift stores and vintage stores and the red cross where you’ll make someone happy and reduce textile waste at the same time.

Repair & Alter Clothing

Most people don’t think twice about throwing their clothes away if they see a hole in them or if a button suddenly pops off. But we would all encourage you to alter and upcycle your clothing by replacing the buttons, fixing the tear, and even sewing a fun patch to make your clothes one of a kind.

Slow Fashion

The opposite of fast fashion it’s its twin sister slow fashion. The main thing about slow fashion is that these brands choose to make long-lasting clothes over quantity by using eco-friendly and recyclable materials.

These items are handcrafted in smaller quantities from high-quality, sustainable materials such as linen and are being sold in local shops. By purchasing clothes from slow fashion brands you’re investing in clothes that will last you for a few years, and you’re saving money and the environment all at once.

Supporting Local And Independent Fashion Designers

By buying directly from local designers you would help decrease textile waste and you would be supporting an independent business that uses sustainable materials, and you would get a handmade product made with love and patience.

There are so many alternatives to fast fashion that we can debate over for days. By choosing one of these alternatives, consumers can reduce their impact on the environment and support more sustainable and ethical fashion practices.


To sum it up no matter how much some people try there is no way to justify that fast fashion doesn’t have any ethical issues. The consequences of its increasing rise and mass production can be seen and felt everywhere around us.

There are always ways for us to be more conscious about our environment and what we choose to buy. What’s most important is to always research where we buy our clothes from, to choose more eco-friendly brands, and to invest in quality long-lasting clothing.

Changing your whole wardrobe and switching shops on a whim can be very overwhelming and difficult. The most important thing is that people are becoming more aware of the negative impact of fast fashion and that’s the first step to changing your lifestyle. By implementing small changes here and there in our lives I believe we can make the world a better place.

One small step for man, a big leap for mankind – Neil Armstrong





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